An Introduction to the Coldridge Collection

A Brief Introduction to the Coldridge Collection

Visit the Coldridge Collection in the Ferguson Club Gallery:
(Scroll down to ‘Coldridge Collection, Devon’)

Mike Thorne’s introduction to the Coldridge Collection:

“A warm welcome to the Coldridge collection; I felt it might be appropriate to set out a brief introduction to the collection.

On leaving school in 1954 I started working on a farm in Oxfordshire and it was there that I had my first taste of Ferguson in the form of an early TE.D20. a three ton tipping trailer and a post hole digger.

Compared to most of the tractors on this 1000 acre farm, the Ferguson was a dream with its electric starter – the only other tractor in the fleet of 11 that had electric starting was a new type Fordson Major Diesel. The Fordson Standards were difficult to start, the Allis Bs were so and so’s and often kicked back, whilst cranking over the Cat R25 or the Miniapolis Mobile GT took all my strength.

The next serious encounter was in 1964 when I moved to Devon in a farming partnership. By 1966 we bought a second small farm, Lower Park Farm, Coldridge and part of the purchase was a TEF20 missing its injector pump, and a Ferguson rear mounted mower and fertilizer spreader. I soon sourced a second hand pump and had the tractor running: it proved to be very useful and reliable.

Within a year and a half the partnership was dissolved and I started a new career in steel fabrication.

Ferguson came back into my life again in 1985 when a friend told me he knew of a TED20 that was for sale for £100: it was tidy and it just about ran so I bought it – that is No1 in the collection today. In 199* it had a total restoration and tyre tracks were fitted by Ernie Luxton.

As the years went by the tractor bug really got a hold of me and at one point there were about seventy tractors at Lower Park of various makes and sizes including several crawlers.

Talking to a fellow enthusiast at one of our early open days I realized I would need to live to about 250 years old in order to get them all restored. As this is most unlikely, I decided to focus on all things Ferguson and the early Massey Ferguson range with a cut off point of the 100 series.

Another factor in my decision was that I had read a great deal about Harry Ferguson and he had become a kind of hero to me. I admire his determination in developing and perfecting draft control with the converging three point linkage. I also appreciated his attention to detail and highly refined engineering standards.

As the collection increased it became obvious that a building was needed to house and display the restored tractors and implements. This was an opportunity for me to indulge in designing and building the heptagonal shed we have today. Known as the tractor shed it was completed in May 1995 and now houses nearly all the Massey Ferguson tractors in the collection.

Coinciding with the hosting of the Ferguson Club’s AGM in April of the year 2000; I decided to alter the 25 year old farm lean-to building to display more of the collection. It was decided to give this building a bit of a high-tech look feeling that would contrast nicely with the older tractors displayed within it. This is known as the “Ferguson shed” and was completed about 14 hours before the Ferguson club’s AGM. How’s that for timing? Jamie Sheldon, Harry Ferguson’s grandson and president of the Ferguson Club kindly performed the official opening after the AGM business.

This building now houses all things Ferguson – apart from the small mezzanine which is my office area and contains several displays of railway models and related art work. It also provides a viewing gallery.

The next development which started late in 2006 was the clearing out of the 60’ x 60’ Atcost barn. This entailed clearing out all the tractors vehicles and implements that were stored here to make way for a full refurbishment of this building and connecting it to the mezzanine area of the Ferguson shed. It was decided to follow a similar style of design thereby giving a sense of continuity within the two buildings.

The basic parameters for this project were not to alter the building on the outside but on the inside endeavour to gain extra floor space. Luckily the floor level of the Atcost barn is at almost the same level as that of the mezzanine of the Ferguson shed.

To maximise the use of space the decision was taken to install a second mezzanine in the centre section of this building, with careful juggling of heights, this was just possible. To increase the actual area of this floor it seemed prudent to extend the edge of the floor beyond the line of the main stanchions by about 2` 6”/750mm, with the ceiling at this point sloping upwards to the thinish edge which supports the balustrades and in turn the hand railings. This I feel gives the deck a lift.

We installed a 500kg electric hoist track along the apex of the building to enable implements and cut-away models to be lifted to the mezzanine and then trundled along the track to their approximate positions; to facilitate this, the mezzanine ends about 3m  from the electrically operated roller shutter door giving a good balcony effect. The centre section incorporates a home made electrically lit Ferguson trademark, this makes a nice focal point. Illuminated display cases have been built into the cavity walls with plenty of space in between for posters and photographs.

A steel staircase with aluminium chequer plate treads and double stainless steel handrails leads from the ground floor to the mezzanine.

In arranging the tractor exhibits we have endeavoured to group them into families with most of them hitched to a Ferguson implement; remember Harry Ferguson quip, “a tractor without an implement is like a pen without ink!” There are five families here Ferguson Brown, Ford Ferguson and one 8N. A much larger family of TE.20s followed by a group of FE.35s most of the early Massey Ferguson tractors, as mentioned before are in the heptagonal tractor shed: its red stained timber rafters reflecting the colour of those models. The final family are the “odd balls” i.e. tractors not necessarily of Ferguson design, but interesting examples in their own right.

A certain amount of seating has been provided to give visitors the chance to rest their feet, relax, take in the atmosphere and discuss with others the finer points of this and that and possibly put the world to rights!

Also for the benefit of visitors a large flat screen monitor has been installed with facilities to play archive material as well as current available DVD’s and videos. Needless to say some seating has been provided adjacent to this screen.

The aim of these facilities is to heighten the visitor’s awareness of significant achievements of Harry Ferguson and his small team of engineers. Also to display as wide a range as possible of his tractors and implements within a setting that is comfortable as well as dynamic. There may be one or two aspects that stray off these basic parameters e.g. a few display cases dedicated to Land Rover, others highlight some of the great achievements of London Transport. Yet another distraction from the Ferguson theme is the display of some model railway stock, prints by Terence Cuneo, David Sheppard and others. These side tracking’s represent my own personal respect for other areas of Great Britain’s huge engineering achievements of the past.

Please come and sample for yourselves, just give a call on 07966 328 600 to fix a date.

Two Ferguson enthusiasts have said to me quite unsolicited

“Well this must be a shrine to Harry Ferguson.”

My reply was, “Yes I suppose it is”

I very much hope you enjoy your time here

Cheers, Mike

Visit the Coldridge Collection in the Ferguson Club Gallery:
(Scroll down to ‘Coldridge Collection, Devon’)

© Michael Thorne